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Environment and Sustainability

Deforestation: more than 20% of Brazil is already gone

This is news that should impress anyone: Brazil burned more than 185 million hectares between 1985 and 2022. This area is equivalent to the combined territory of Colombia and Chile, or around 21.8% of the national territory. 

Imagine setting fire to more than a fifth of your house. That's what's happened! More worrying than these figures are the impacts generated by this reality. Has greening the planet become an increasingly challenging mission? Let's read on to find out a little more.

After all, why does this happen?

Deforestation in Brazil is a large-scale problem that has caught the attention of the whole world. The country has one of the largest areas of tropical forest on the planet, including the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Atlantic Rainforest. All play a fundamental role in maintaining the global climate balance, as well as being home to a huge variety of animal and plant species.

Deforestation is not just about destroying a certain area, because the consequences spread. It seems obvious or repetitive to say this, but we are a society that shares the same "house". And that's why the whole world keeps an eye on Brazil when it comes to the environment.

The causes of deforestation are diverse and complex:

  1. Agricultural expansion: the creation of pastures for cattle and the expansion of agriculture are responsible for a large part of deforestation in Brazil. Often, deforested areas are used to produce soy, corn, meat and other agricultural products that are exported.
  2. Illegal logging: illegal logging is a common practice in many areas of the country. The wood is used to produce furniture, paper, cellulose and other products, both for domestic consumption and for export.
  3. Mining: Mining is also an important cause of deforestation in Brazil. The extraction of minerals such as gold, bauxite and iron often involves the destruction of large areas of forest.
  4. Infrastructure construction: the construction of roads, hydroelectric plants, dams and other infrastructure works also leads to deforestation. These works often require the removal of large areas of forest to make way for the buildings.
  5. Forest fires: Forest fires can be caused by various reasons, including drought, human action and climate change. These fires cause significant damage to forests and accelerate the deforestation process.

How does deforestation put life at risk?

The effects are alarming and go far beyond what most people imagine, a cycle we call the cascade effect. In other words, it's not just a matter of damaging the atmosphere through pollution from fires or destroying a vegetated area.

Deforestation puts life on the planet at risk in a number of ways:

  • destruction of natural habitats;
  • soil erosion;
  • climate change;
  • loss of biodiversity;
  • an increase in respiratory diseases;
  • reduction of natural resources, including food for indigenous communities and local populations.

Raising awareness of the importance of forests and the need to protect them should be a priority anywhere in the world, seeking to reconcile countries' economic development without it costing the environment too much - basically, what we call sustainable development.

What do we need to do?

Isn't it "just" protecting and reforesting? In reality, this is a complex problem, far from being a simple equation like "let's plant more trees and stop the fires". There are thousands of factors and agents involved, and clearly the solution won't happen overnight.

The Brazilian government has made efforts to combat deforestation by implementing environmental conservation laws and policies, such as the Forest Code and the Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon. However, these efforts are often insufficient and enforcement is still precarious, which allows illegal activities to continue.

Planting trees in a disorderly manner doesn't solve the problem either. If reforestation is impulsive (i.e. it doesn't have a good implementation plan) it can end up being counterproductive, damaging species diversity or agricultural crops. Environmental restoration is a process that requires care and planning that takes into account basic elements such as climate, altitude, soil type and regional factors.

A good reforestation project should include pre-planting steps, including the control of competing plants, checking the acidity of the soil and correcting it, the fertilization process, among others. By planting in areas where there used to be devastated vegetation, the restoration of the ecosystem will generate a series of benefits, of which we highlight:

  • the absorption of CO²,
  • restoring springs and protecting watersheds,
  • maintaining biodiversity,
  • controlling the climate crisis and high temperatures.

And what can't we do?

Imitate the Disaster Girl meme and stand by. Our mission is to green Brazil again! Come and join a great community of environmental restorers with Abundance Brasil.

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